Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..."

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yr. Hmb. Svt.

    :fonz:
     


  2. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    i was with
    meccariello today
    and he showed me
    a pair of shoes
    brought in by one
    of his clients
    asking if he could
    resole it
    this was made by
    a high end brand
    whose shoes run
    in teh 4 figure range
    and i think
    it shows some
    of the cost cutting
    as mentioned by @DWFII

    [​IMG]

    meccariello was not
    surprised
    and told me he
    has seen things
    like this many times
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016


  3. OzzyJones

    OzzyJones Senior member

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    What is that, cardboard!?
     


  4. joeninety

    joeninety Well-Known Member

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    maybe interesting to note, there are several manufacturers of good year welted shoes that have introduced additional steps, better materials and more staff etc - see Alfred Sargent for example, just a few years ago their shoes were no way near as good as they are now - the price of their shoes did almost double of course.
     


  5. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Looks like a cardboard / paperboard shank cover from here.
     


  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well, it would be interesting to know exactly what additional steps and what "better materials"...and exactly how "better" is being defined.

    But changes do occur in every business model even if the fundamental principles / Job One remain the same. That said when such changes are made, the customer base also changes, expectations are raised and often disappointed and inevitably nothing really changes except now the article in question costs more than it did.

    And somehow, serendipitously, with no one really knowing how it happened, [​IMG] profit margins are greater than they were, as well.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016


  7. globobock

    globobock Senior member

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    I think it would be good if you could mention the brand here, since the pictures are valid evidence, not here say.

    And "3 figures" is a pretty broad range, 100-999$. So it could be anyone.
     


  8. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    edited
    4 figure range
    i;m not mentioning
    brands

    and yes
    it was cardboard
     


  9. globobock

    globobock Senior member

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    Fair enough!
    At least my beloved C&J are not 4 figures...
     


  10. Whirling

    Whirling Senior member

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    It looks simply like greed and misrepresentation to me. I don't care which firm made those shoes, but I doubt they represent them as containing structural cardboard.
     


  11. globobock

    globobock Senior member

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    I do see a General suspiction from you towards the industry, and I can't fault you for this - evidence is abundant. As for me, I just Keep a tiny hope that somewhere out there someone is still trying to produce Quality industrial products... Let's see how long this tiny hope will stay alive.

    To be honest, I can't remember ever seeing modern straights in my life. For the industry, it would be a Blessing if it becomes fashionable again since production cost will be much lower. God forbid them for ever making a comeback.
    I didn't mean any disrespect with that cowboy-bootmaker Phrase, sorry if I may have offended you. Maybe the Idiom "Wellknown for your Cowboy boots" would be more appropriate.
     


  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Fair enough....although sometimesI am not sure it is suspicion of the Industry so much as dismay at the willing gullibility and / or naivete of the public. :D

    On the other hand discovering cardboard in a four figure shoe, is enough (or ought to be) to instill a...healthy...skepticism / suspicion of the Industry in anyone.
    And you probably never will...outside of places like Colonial Williamsburg, or Old Sturbridge Village, etc.. Once the modern last turning lathe was invented (in the US) and the focus began to shift towards a closer fit and a better, more orthopaedically correct fit, straights were no longer practical for any shoe.

    I might add (to your point about production costs) that "straight cone" lasts...which are pretty much the Industry standard...are more akin to "straights" than more foot mindful, physiologically correct, lasts such as "inside cone" lasts. And it does, indeed, make lasting with a lasting machine easier.

    No worries. I didn't take offense. It's just one of those fine details--like "cordwainer" versus "cobbler" or "handsewn Goodyear"--that mean everything...and nothing.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016


  13. VRaivio

    VRaivio Senior member

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    Come on, T4phage, you are writing from the cover of a nickname -- you could reveal the maker's name without repercussions. By doing so, you would help the SF shoe nerd community favour those who don't cut corners while advertising "handmade" or "highest quality" stuff.
     


  14. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    Perhaps against my better judgement, I am going to wade into this debate.

    I don’t agree with DW’s assertions about some of the ‘inevitable’ consequences of the ‘factory mentality,’ because they ignore both the theories of business strategy and many real life examples. Business strategy, which includes product/marketing strategy, includes a fundamental set of decisions about product characteristics and performance, the costs of delivering same, and the value that those deliver to the customer. Business is about long term wealth maximization, not merely about short term profits. In order to achieve long term wealth maximization, a company needs to either be: lower cost than its competitors, or higher priced. In a competitive marketplace, many companies succeed by attaining higher prices, and those higher prices, over time, can only be supported by delivering greater value. Let’s look at the car industry: the most profitable companies are those that have, for years, delivered superior cars — Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW, and their ilk — and those that are superb/efficient manufacturers, notably Toyota. How many people would argue that, over the past decades, Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, and BMW have not consistently made a disproportionate share of the best/highest performance/most luxurious vehicles available? Is that because they’ve indulged in a ‘race to the bottom’? Of course not —they’ve invested billions of dollars in R&D and product development and have, time and time again, led the industry in introducing valued innovations and quality products to the car business. So, businesses don’t have to inevitably cheapen their products to succeed — to assert to the contrary is simply counter-factual.

    Now, the inherent quality of a product is a separate discussion from the efficient production of that product. Any business that wants to succeed long-term must continually investigate more efficient methods of production, even without introducing changes to the product, because its rivals most assuredly will be. And yes, such changes may often lead to production methods that involve sub-specialization. DW finds this problematic, as it reduces any one worker’s personal commitment to the quality of the results. Certainly, this can be one consequence of such a production methodology. I think he also (either implicitly or explicitly) finds such a change to be de-humanizing for the workers — mere interchangeable cogs in the process. Fair enough, though others might assert that encouraging people to work as an individual craftsman leads to a loss of community values or concerns. Also, ask a worker at Patek Philippe or Rolls Royce (or thousands of other companies) about their commitment to quality production; many employees care deeply about these things and take tremendous pride in their work, notwithstanding the fact that they are just ‘cogs’ in the process. Yes, poorly run companies often do end up with indifferent employees, but these companies won’t, I submit, thrive or even survive in the long run. Case in point — the US car companies; those that survive (recall that many companies have gone out of business over the last 60 years) have lost massive market share, needed to be bailed out by the government, and have shed numerous jobs.

    Of course, in the ongoing thinking about production efficiency, companies explore alternative product designs and alternative technologies. Sometimes, a lower cost solution delivers lower product quality (e.g. GYW); the question then becomes: how much lower cost vs how much lower quality, i.e. is that tradeoff a reasonable one? That is a judgement that a company needs to make; they will learn whether they were correct based on the feedback of the market.

    It is, I would assert, the march of production efficiency and how that ties in to product design that leads to the loss of skills and knowledge that DW bemoans. In the context of shoemaking, it isn’t the change to skills specialization that leads to the loss of knowledge; if anything, I would suggest that specialization leads to greater collective knowledge. To the degree that skills and knowledge are lost, it is because, in a competitive marketplace, they no longer retain much value. Yes, in a GYW world, knowing the intimate details of how to, say, ply up, wax, bristle, etc. an inseam cord doesn’t have much value, so that knowledge may be lost. And that is too bad; but that is a function of the fact that alternative solutions deliver a superior benefit/cost ratio, not because the shoemaking roles have been divided up.

    Where I would agree with DW is that consumers need to take more ownership of their purchase decisions and to become more well educated in that context. Yes, advertising/marketing has created false impressions and misunderstandings ('handmade,' 'best in the world,' 'never need sharpening,' 'improves gas mileage 10% with one little add-on piece of equipment,'), and also exploited many human foibles (the almost insatiable desire for more and more things, the urge to compete with/keep up with the Joneses, the fact that ones relative wealth is more important to happiness than absolute wealth, etc). The good news is that the internet makes product knowledge far more accessible than ever before, if people are willing to invest their time and energy in pursuing it. The bad news is that most people would seemingly rather watch The World’s Biggest Loser, Funniest Home Videos, etc than learn something about what they are buying. In that context, I guess people get what they deserve.

    Now, about that cardboard shank cover. It is easy to criticize it. However, let me suggest an alternative scenario: the maker, after much investigation, determined that, in their honest and well-intentioned opinion, a light but stiff and strong thermoplastic shank provides superior performance. However, it is difficult to get a shank cover made of leather to adhere to the thermoplastic shank, thus using a leather shank cover can lead to squeaking. However, a cardboard shank cover for that thermoplastic shank adheres readily, is light weight, can be easily trimmed, is easy to use, and has absolutely no deleterious impact on the shoe’s performance or durability. So they have gone with that solution. Let’s not be hasty in jumping to conclusions about someones motives without knowing the facts. Here’s another example: rather than using linen thread, DW uses pre-made (but not pre-waxed) ‘Teklon’ cords to inseam his footwear. I know why that is, and I respect his reasons. However, what if you didn’t know why, you only took apart one of his shoes and saw, horror of horrors, a SYNTHETIC inseam cord! Why, my god, those are less expensive than linen cords, come pre-made, and are not traditional —that ******** DW is cheapening his product to save costs and time and make more money. In the absence of a discussion and explanation, it would be easy to have that reaction.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016


  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    With all due respect, I don't think "repercussions" are the issue. In a thread that is focused on "Techniques and Traditions" these kinds of issues (country of origin, name of maker, etc.) seem beside the point to me.

    If names are to be named, I suspect it would be more appropriate in threads dedicated to that particular maker. Of course, we all know what would happen in such circumstances. Why do we need such controversy here?

    Besides, it's not like there is no recourse for finding out who the maker is--private messaging comes to mind.
     


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